How to Cure Head Chatter When It Comes to Your Money

By on June 1, 2011

By Sharon O’Day –

Every woman wants to get her finances under control, right? Well, one of the toughest parts of doing so is getting honest with money itself: the green stuff, the coins, the paychecks, the bills. The stuff you either have enough of … or you don’t.

In turn, not having clarity about your numbers is the leading cause of the endless head chatter you hear, night and day. Do you have enough? How will you pay that?  Can you afford it? What if some unexpected expense comes up? What will you live on when you’re old?

All that noise keeps you from seeing how subtle mind games or beliefs might be tripping you up. And keeps you from being where you want to be financially.

Taming that head chatter is a two-step process: (1) knowing exactly where your finances stand, that is, the actual numbers that represent exactly what you have coming in and what you owe each month, and (2) once you know that, getting your income greater than or equal to your expenses.

That’s when the head chatter stops, and when you can start looking calmly at the bigger financial picture that’s available to you.

Curiously enough, head chatter really has as much to do with time as it does with money. And here’s why.

The Power of Being “Time Neutral”

Imagine you’ve accumulated a certain amount of debt, including a mortgage, a car payment, credit cards, plus the other bills that are just part of “life.” Imagine that each month you continue to add to credit card debt for little needs and wants. So, although you’re making credit card payments, your new charges are greater than that portion of your payment that goes toward paying down principal after covering that month’s interest.

Therefore, the balance isn’t coming down at all. Let’s say you’ve reached your credit limit, or you just got one of those letters from the bank saying your credit limit has been capped at today’s balance—as so many people did these past years. Suddenly, you’re worried about how to meet all your commitments with what you’re bringing in each month: How will you juggle things? What will you pay late? Where can you get some extra money?

Time as a Stressor

When our expenses are greater than our income, what’s the thing we most dread? The passage of time. We dread every day that passes … every day that takes us closer to whenever the next bill comes due. Checking off each day on the calendar brings on a queasy feeling. Time is like a huge rock that’s rolling down the hill behind us, pushing us forward. We’re powerless to stop its forward motion.

It feels as if we just paid the mortgage and had a few days of relief when, suddenly, it’s the 20th of the month again and another mortgage payment is coming due soon. By the 23rd, panic sets in. By the 28th, we’re not sleeping. Here we go again. (And it’s not just the mortgage …)

Time Neutral

What happens when your expenses equal your income? You’re “time neutral” and it doesn’t matter that one more day has passed because now you know that you can meet your financial obligations when they arrive. It doesn’t even matter if you just squeak by. What matters is that you can make the payments in a timely manner.

Suddenly the huge burden of passing time is lifted off your shoulders. Your anxiety level drops. And without that one burden, you have breathing room that lets you be so much more creative about your life, your challenges, your solutions, and your goals.

Anyone who has been upside down financially and stressing over every billing period can tell you that their life is changed dramatically just because of the Power of Being “Time Neutral.”

Time as a Friend

Next, imagine what happens when your expenses are smaller than your income. Now you relish the passing of each day because you know it represents more “spare money” in the bank. It has nothing to do with wishing time away. It has everything to do with the attitude of looking forward to tomorrow with glee—rather than with dread.

The Steps to Take

If any of this resonates with you, do yourself a favor. Figure out what it’s going to take to get your numbers down on paper, in black and white. Enlist whoever or whatever is needed to achieve that: a friend, a bookkeeper, a course or a mentor.

Then look at the numbers and see how out of balance your income and expenses are. If necessary, look at what you can cut back on temporarily to get your expenses equal to or lower than your income. It’s not forever. But it has to be long enough to feel the freedom from that big rock rolling down the hill after you.

And then breathe.

You are now in the quiet space where you can start dreaming about how you will turn your finances around and take creative steps that open up new opportunities. You have greater clarity of how you were spending your money, and can make smarter choices. You can identify what’s really important to you in this phase of your life, and use that knowledge to go after it with gusto.

And you can start employing the financial genius you were born with, but relinquished to destructive childhood messages, discriminating math teachers, or just plain old “life just got too busy.” One of the best-kept secrets? “Finances” are really nothing other than a scary word for common sense and sixth-grade math!

Sharon O’Day is the author of the upcoming book “Money after Menopause.” She’s a global finance and marketing expert with an MBA from The Wharton School. Sharon has dedicated the last 10 years to understanding the money issues that hold women back from reaching financial security. Website: http://sharonoday.com/

About Sharon ODay

Sharon O’Day is the author of the upcoming book “Money after Menopause.” She’s a global finance and marketing expert with an MBA from The Wharton School. Sharon has dedicated the last 10 years to understanding the money issues that hold women back from reaching financial security. Website: http://SharonODay.com Twitter: www.twitter.com/SharonODay Facebook: www.facebook.com/SharonODayFB.

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How to Cure Head Chatter When It Comes to Your Money